Fitness

Does winter slows down your metabolism? | Konika Luke

Blog By: Konika Luke

We all know that variety of factors influence metabolism. What you eat, the type of exercise and how well you sleep all affect your metabolism.  In addition to these well known factors, temperature also plays a role in your metabolism.

Your body is constantly regulating its core temperature to around 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). When the climate heavily differs from this temperature, due to cold or heat, your body has to make an effort to maintain its preferred temperature. Your body extends more energy by shivering to heat up or sweating to cool down.

This would lead you to believe that living in extremely cold or hot climate would increase the metabolic rate. It turns out that, metabolic rate increase lasts only in the short-term. Over time, cells start adapting to the new climate. This makes it easier for the body to maintain its normal temperature. This is why people who live in very cold areas don’t seem to feel the cold as much as people visiting the place, and vice-versa in hotter climates.

WHY DO WE GAIN WEIGHT IN WINTER

In our ancestors’ time, the winter months were associated with famine. One theory is that we are genetically programmed to increase fat stores in winters to survive. But now the famine never comes, so we never use up the stores.

There are multiple bodily processes that are involved in fat metabolism. Some of the processes slow down in cold temperatures. One reason could be the blood vessels are constricted to reduce heat loss. The metabolism may slow down to conserve heat and energy.

OTHER FACTORS

Temperature isn’t always the factor during cold winter months that can affect metabolism. Lifestyle changes and eating habits tend to shift during the winter. A combination of decrease in physical activity and consumption of fatty foods also leads to weight gain. If your endocrine system isn’t functioning well, it leads to slow down in metabolism.

Low levels of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin can also affect weight in winter. Lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage. Melatonin, the hormone triggered by darkness that makes us feel sleepy, can also have an effect on appetite. In summer, levels of melatonin decline. In winter levels of melatonin increase. Thus it could increase appetite.

TIPS TO SPEED UP METABOLISM IN WINTER

EAT BREAKFAST

A nutritious morning meal will boost your metabolism and hold your appetite longer.

SNACK HEALTHFULLY

Eat healthy snacks at intervals like fruits, nuts, yogurt, seeds to keep your burning calories. When you skip a meal, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy.

EXERCISE

Exercise causes an increase in body temperature. Thus metabolism increases during physical activity. Strength training builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat. Consume adequate protein in your food.

STAY HYDRATED

We associate hydration with sweating in summer. In winter the body ‘s thirst response changes. This happens because the blood vessels constrict to draw more blood to it’s core. This mechanism is vital for the body to conserve heat. That’s why the hands and feet get especially cold in winters. In the winter you get dehydrated too, especially in the dry indoor air.

Dehydration makes losing pounds harder. Water is essential for breakdown of fat for energy and better control of appetite.

GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

When you are sleep deprived, your metabolism slows down. Sleep is intricately connected to various hormonal and metabolic processes. It is important in maintaining metabolic homeostasis.

Metabolism is similar to the engine of a car. It’s the energy process that burns the fuel and converts it into energy. So naturally when metabolism begins to slow down, weight gain occurs.  But the good news is that if you can regulate the factors that control metabolism, then you can regulate metabolism.


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